In the last post I shared my transcription of the will of Richard Aldridge, the lighterman and Custom House agent who died in 1848, and in the post before that I wrote about his marriage to Elizabeth Gibson, daughter of my 5 x great uncle Bowes John Gibson.

Early Victorian fashions from Graham's Magazine, 1848

Early Victorian fashions from Graham’s Magazine, 1848

In this post I’m exploring what became of Elizabeth Aldridge née Gibson after the death of her husband. In 1848, the year of Richard Aldridge’s death, of Chartist rallies in England and revolutions across Europe, Elizabeth would have been 45 years old. In his will, Richard had bequeathed her their home at 20 Dalston Place, on the semi-rural outskirts of north-east London.

In 1841, 60-year-old Richard Aldridge had been living in Dalston Place with Elizabeth (either ‘our’ Elizabeth, or possibly an earlier wife with the same name: see this post), his adult son Richard junior, teenaged daughter Emily, and married daughter Esther Holliday, with her young daughter Elizabeth, and a female servant. In the following year Richard junior had married Hannah Armstrong and in 1845 Emily had married William Price Inglis. Emily died just a year after her marriage, at the age of 19, probably in childbirth.

When the next census was taken in 1851, three years after the death of Richard Aldridge senior, his widow Elizabeth, a 45-year-old ‘annuitant’, was still living at 20 Dalston Place. With her were William Price Inglis, 36, a clerk with the Post Office; Thomas Inglis, 32, a clerk in Her Majesty’s Customs (did Richard Aldridge have anything to do with his appointment?); and a visitor named Maria Inglis, a ‘Lady’ aged 50. Thomas was said to have been born in Spain and Maria in Portugal, but both were described as British subjects. William was, of course, the widower of Elizabeth’s late stepdaughter Emily Aldridge. Thomas was his brother and Maria their mother, the widow of Thomas Inglis senior, a physician and army staff surgeon.

Barnsbury Square is near the top right of this section from Weller's London map of 1868

Barnsbury Square is near the middle right of this section from Weller’s London map of 1868

It’s not clear whether the Inglis family had taken up permanent residence at Dalston Place, and I can’t find any trace of them after 1851. Certainly by 1861 Elizabeth Aldridge had moved house. The next census finds her, aged 58 (or 60, if you believe the census record), living at Vernon House, at No. 6 Barnsbury Square in Islington. This was the fashionable square where Elizabeth’s brother and sister, Bowes Charles and Matilda Henrietta, lived until their deaths, in 1837 and 1845 respectively. I suspect that at least one house in the square had been left to her children by Mary Catherine Gibson, when she died in 1826, or perhaps by her husband Bowes John Gibson, who had died in 1817.

Elizabeth’s new household included both a servant and an attendant, suggesting that she had ample means to support herself and perhaps that she was growing infirm with age. Next door to Elizabeth, at No. 5 Barnsbury Square, we find William S. Gibson, a mercantile clerk, his wife Mary Ann, their daughter Clara Elizabeth, who is one year old, and son William, only a month old, both of them born in Barnsbury. This is William Slark Gibson, who – we can deduce from other sources – must have been Elizabeth Aldridge’s nephew.

I want to discuss the Slark Gibsons fully in another post, but for now we should note that their relationship with Elizabeth must have been close, since ten years later in 1871 we find their daughter Clara Elizabeth Gibson, now 11, actually living with her 67-year-old great aunt at No.6 Barnsbury Square. Not only that, but they have five visitors staying with them, in addition to a general servant. The visitors are all members of the Cope family: Ida, 21, and Constance, 18, both born in Prussia; Carl, 16, born in Islington; Mabel, 14, born in Austria; and Cecil, 9, born in Australia. It turns out that these were the children of Frederick Charles Cope, an architect, and Elizabeth Jane Slark. The latter was obviously related in some way to William Slark Gibson, and therefore to Clara and by extension Elizabeth, though it will take some more research – and another post – to unravel the precise connections between them.

To date, I’ve been unable to find Elizabeth Aldridge in any records after 1871, so I assume she must have died before the 1881 census was taken.

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